Hi Everyone, and WELCOME to The Writing Fairy website. I'm Dorothea Helms, freelance writer, poet, book author, fiction dabbler, writing instructor, keynote speaker, humorist, wife, mother and slave to my English Bulldog, Margaret. My website is undergoing a facelift, boob lift, liposuction, weight loss program ... wait a minute - those are things I need personally. Sheesh. But my website IS in transition after being neglected for a LONG time. My goal is to inspire writers; my method humour (or humor in the U.S.). Enjoy!

Coaxing closet writers to emerge and make their magic known!

This appeared in WCDR’s “Word Weaver” newsletter in 2009:

One of the most difficult things beginning freelance writers tackle is the concept of marketing. People think that in order to make a living writing, all they have to do is write. NOT!

Like operating any business, freelancers have to think about a whole lot of other things such as invoicing, bookkeeping, paying taxes – and attracting clients who will offer work that enables writers to invoice, have books to keep and taxes to pay.

Marketing your work takes time and can be accomplished in many different ways. I’d like to share two methods in this column that might surprise you. The first is to write with creativity, especially your leads. The initial few sentences in any piece of writing are the most critical, especially in today’s hectic world where there are so many things competing for readers’ time. People read headlines and leads, and if those aren’t interesting, they often move on to the next article. It’s important to write an attention-grabbing lead. Then, of course, the rest of the piece has to maintain that level of interest.

How does this tie in with marketing? You never know who’s out there reading your bylined material. Several times in my career, I have been contacted by clients who read my articles in newspapers and magazines and liked my writing style. They contacted me. Imagine that … reverse marketing!

The other method I suggest is to be reliable. Get back to your editor with good solid writing by deadline day within the word count asked for, and you stand a good chance of being hired again. Does that sound too basic? Just ask editors how they feel about this. I’ve sat on the editing side of the desk for years, and it can be a challenge to find reliable writers. As I’ve said many times, I’d rather hire a good reliable writer than a brilliant flake. A little professionalism goes a long way in this biz.

There are many other ways to market your work – business cards, brochures, flyers, newsletters, workshops, etc. But the best marketing is still word of mouth. Be sure you give them something good to talk about!

 

I have decided to share some of my columns that have appeared in The Writers’ Community of Durham Region newsletter, “Word Weaver,” over the years. Here is the inaugural column from the January-February 2009 issue. Hope you find it interesting!

The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column

I never went to my high school prom. Wasn’t asked. I stayed home and daydreamed about what colour my dress might have been if some boy had mustered up the courage to ask a smart fat girl to the dance. Maybe a soft blue or mauve, I thought, with my long hair twisted into an up-do adorned with a sprig of baby’s breath. I closed my eyes and envisioned what it would be like to stand in the balloon- and tissue flower-embellished gymnasium with my arm through my date’s. Strobe lights flashed bursts of excitement that teased hormones with multi-coloured promises of everlasting romance. But that reality wasn’t to be for me.

I now wonder why I didn’t just crash the prom, drink spiked punch effervescing with too much ginger ale, and stand in the middle of the floor doing the watusi all by myself to The Mamas and The Papas singing “California Dreamin’.” But it was 1969, and nice girls didn’t do things like that. Plus, by the time I was in my teens, I was used to rejection from my thin, good-looking peers.

My parents were loving and supportive of me and my siblings, so I had at least a partial sense of self-worth that didn’t rely on validation from others. Good thing, too; over the years that inkling of self-love has saved me many times from committing emotional and actual hari-kari. And frankly, it helped to prepare me for my eventual career as a freelance writer.

What beginning writer hasn’t daydreamed about what it would be like to receive an acceptance letter from an editor or publisher, or to stand on stage in a beautiful gown or fine suit and accept the Scotiabank Giller Prize? And how many promising writers never find out because they hold back from submitting their work? They suspect that they’re not worthy of being published, and they fear the rejection that might reinforce that idea. By shoving their writing into real and virtual drawers, writers reject themselves before someone else gets the opportunity.

Anyone who has taken my writing workshops and courses or experienced my audio and visual online writing tips knows that I applaud rejection – and I encourage my students to do the same. I’m well aware of how much it hurts to have someone say “No,” but I also know that if you want to dance the dance of published writers, you have to send your stuff out into the cold, hard world. You have to take the risk all by yourself.

Most of you have read or heard my seven words that can eliminate fear of rejection for writers: some of your work will be rejected. Accept that, and the fear dissipates. Rejection is a staple of the writing life. IF you are actively submitting query letters and/or manuscripts, it’s bound to happen.

I’ve sat on both sides of the rejections desk. As an editor, I’ve been delighted to accept queries and articles and offer other writers paying gigs. I’ve also had to hand out rejections because there simply wasn’t space in the publication for the pieces the writers proposed, or because we had run a similar piece a few issues ago, or any number of other reasons that had NOTHING to do with the quality of the writing.

As a writer, you would have to have extrasensory perception to know what is on editors’ desks to ensure an acceptance every time. The best you can do is rely on research and instinct to target your submissions.

Believe it or not, rejections have their benefits. Here are some of them.

  • Rejections are proof that you’re being a writer and not just talking about being a writer.
  • Rejections are proof that you are marketing your work as a freelancer – handy should you experience a tax audit before you sell any writing.
  • Rejections are feedback – someone at the receiving end made some effort to consider your work.
  • Rejections represent steps toward acceptances. Learn from good real estate agents, who understand that when following up leads, every “No” is a step toward a “Yes.”
  • Rejections toughen you up and inspire you to tap into the self-worth hiding deep within.

I have hundreds of rejection letters to my credit, and I’m proud of them. I’ve also had numerous articles, essays and poems published because I took the risk.

Believe in your ideas and abilities and share your unique voice with the world. When you receive rejections, chalk it up to experience and send the work somewhere else. Invite yourself to the prom and dance the watusi with gusto.

 

“The Real Housewives of Anywhere” is a fabulous source of pabulum for seekers of mindless television. That, and “Swamp People.”

My dreams last night were a garble of words, numbers, faces and food. A lot of food.

I have the restive feeling that I never was in Kansas to begin with.